Hello from Massachusetts, I've always loved everything to do with space and I'm a real sci-fi fan as well.
I'm a supervisor of IT for a large software company, student of Aikido (a martial art), I train @ Zenshinkan Dojo (www.zenshinkan.com).
As part of that training we endeavor to open our minds to allow a full and complete awareness of everything around us no matter the distance. SETI plays in well with that philosophy. I find that the more people look out with questions the better answers they find here on our little speck of sand on the beach that is our universe.
Thoughts about SETI and SETI@home
Without a doubt I believe that extraterrestrial life exists, the vastness of the universe alone mandates it.
Yes, I do think that humans will find extraterrestrial life, the question is when. But if you don't look you can't find. We very well may discover other amazing things we can't dream of, accidently while on this search. Just think throughout history of how many great discoveries have been made unrelated to a project's original intent.
Sending a beacon gives me pause, but in the end I think we've been unknowingly sending a beacon for ~70 years now.
If we sent an intentional beacon, it would make sense to make it as simple as possible and yet convey that fact that it is artificial and intelligent, such as the first 100 prime numbers.
I run SETI to do my small part in this very important endeavor. I wish more schools would use this tool to ignite the imaginations and interests of the kids. Science & math are not getting taught at the level that keeps the kids interested and that is a real shame for this country. I'd love you guys to get more press as there are so many people out there who have yet to hear about this project.
Keep crunching the numbers, the next packet may be the one that changes the world's view forever.